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Emily Portman


Country of origin:

England

Type of music generally:

Beautiful & fierce folk based on traditional stylings

Status:

Most recent release, Coracle (2015)

See also:

Emily Portman's site

Emily Portman's Bandcamp page

Emily Portman's Facebook page

Emily Portman's other projects include the groups The Devil's Interval, Rubus, and The Furrow Collective (with Alasdair Roberts, Rachel Newton, and Lucy Farrell), and she sings as a duo with Lauren McCormick.

Comparisons:

Sandy Denny, Lisa Knapp, Karine Polwart, Teresa Doyle

Covers/own material:

Own, with occasional traditional material

General comments:

Emily Portman is an enormously talented songwriter. Over the decades I have been interested in traditional music, I have heard many (mostly failed) attempts to write contemporary material that have the depth and echoes of traditional ballads—a feat that Emily Portman manages handily. It helps that she has a gorgeous, evocative, clear voice and also that the arrangements of her songs are inventive and just right for each song. On the basis of the glamoury, I will watch avidly for more solo work—it's brilliant so far. (Neile)

Recommended first album:

the glamoury

Recordings:


the glamoury

Release info:

2010—Furrow Records—FUR 002

Availability:

England; see Emily Portman's site

Ecto priority:

Highly recommended

Group members:

Emily Portman—vocals, concertina

Guest artists:

Lucy Farrell—vioin, vocals; lead vocal (4)
Rachel Newson—vocals, harp
Christian Dropolis [? nearly unreadble]—vocals, violin
David Newey [?]—guitar
Rachael McShane—cello (2)
Gabriel Waite—cello (3, 8)
Hinny Pawsey—fiddle

Produced by:

Not listed except track 9 produced by Finn McNicholas

Comments:

the glamoury is truly impressive debut. The songwriting is shockingly good—Emily Portman pulls off neo-traditional songwriting with such aplomb that her glorious version of "Two Sisters" doesn't overshadow the rest of the album, which are all her own compositions. These are strong, magical songs of transformation—beginning from the very first track, "Bones and Feathers," about a woman who creates birds from things from on the street (the tune and presentation of this song, especially her vocal swoops, remind me of early Joni Mitchell). She sings about selkies, sirens, magical coats, murdered children, and more. The production is excellent and the arrangements are soundscapes that illuminate each song and are full of musical and lyrical hooks. Highly, highly recommended. (Neile)

Hinge of the year

Release info:

2011

Availability:

See Emily Portman's site

Ecto priority:

Recommended for folk and/or Emily Portman fans

Comments:

After the gorgeous, brilliantly written, emotive, and intriguing story-songs of the glamoury, I have to say that I found these three songs disappointing. There's nothing wrong with them—it's just that the glamoury made me expect so much more. This really feels like b-sides. Maybe I loved that so much that I was bound to be disappointed by whatever followed, but I'm still looking forward to whatever she does next. (Neile)

Hatchling

Release info:

2012——Furrow Records—FUR 006

Availability:

England; see Emily Portman's site

Ecto priority:

Recommended

Group members:

Emily Portman—vocals, concertina, banjo, ukulele

Guest artists:

Lucy Farrell—vocals, viola, saw
Rachel Newton—vocals, harp, fiddle
Lucy Deakin—cello
Alasdair Roberts—guitar, vocals
Jonny Kearney—guitar (3)
Will Schrimshaw—percussion, supercollider programming

Comments:

This is just a little disappointing compared to the glamoury—it's still creative, especially in the stories it tells, but musically, even though it starts out powerfully with two impressive songs, the title track (Leda talking to her twins) and "Hollin," and she intersperses some quite different-sounding songs, so many of the tracks sound similar that the album doesn't have quite the same surprising spark. The two lullabies are really lovely, and the stories are always intriguing, but overall for me this is a good album rather than a knock-out. The glamoury set the bar so very high. (Neile)

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Entry last updated 2015-06-13 20:19:40.
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